Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thank you, Hulu, for Johnny Sokko

Thanks to online television repository HULU.COM, I have been able to relive one of the pleasures of my youth.
"JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT" was my joint favorite TOKUSATSU (Japanese live-action television show) when I was a kid -- only equaled by the magnificent "ULTRAMAN."
Imagine my surprise when I learned I can watch all the first-season episodes on Hulu.
In the series, a small boy (Sokko) gains control of a Giant Robot (pictured) and uses the machine to battled the forces of the evil Emperor Guillotine and his minions, the Gargoyle gang.

How could this series miss appealing to an imaginative kid like me?
Here is a boy who stands as tall as adult heroes, because he has a big robot on his side.
I spent many days in the vacant lot near my house, acting out scenes from the "Johnny Sokko" series. Now, thanks to Hulu, I can enjoy the action all over again.

Friday, February 27, 2009

I still love you Hiroko Sakurai!

ROUTE 1 editorial assistant KERSTIN (age 13) can't stop squealing about "Twilight" star Robert Pattinson.
See? There she goes again.
ROUTE 1 readers recall their own celebrity crushes by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Did you ever have a movie star crush?"
INGER H. -- Did I? I still do!!! Cary Grant always seemed like some sparkling and impossible combination of handsomeness, charm, humor and confidence, mixed with the slightest bit of true humility that made him seem swoonable, yet completely accessible and down to earth. In fact, in a lot of ways, he is my idea of the perfect man.
KERI M. -- Leonardo DiCaprio. Before I knew better and when he was on "Growing Pains."
BEKAH P. -- Oh my gosh. Did I ever. Brad Renfro, for starters, although he is obsolete now. The other one (and I am dreadfully ashamed to admit this) was Macaulay Culkin -- you know, the "Home Alone" star. Yeah, I thought he was totally hot.
JIM S. -- I had a small crush on Katharine Ross, after seeing her in "The Graduate," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Stepford Wives." She not only was cute, but had an innocent quality to her. I also had somewhat of a crush on Raquel Welch, for different reasons.
RICK T. -- Annette with the Mousekateers.
BRIAN M. -- Elisabeth Shue. She was the CUTEST... and I never saw her until "Adventures in Babysitting" (1987). Of course, everything changed when "Leaving Las Vegas" came out in 1995... not her necessarily, but her character wasn't so... cute in this one.
KERSTIN H. -- OK, so I like, *love* Zac Efron, who is so unmanly he can't even grow a beard. Although, my first crush was George Harrison, from The Beatles.
SASKIA M. -- I think my "crush" was more on the fictional character James Bond -- but only when played by Sean Connery and even more so: Roger Moore.
MIKE D. -- Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd. Ah, what 13-year-old boy in the mid-70s didn't love "Charlie's Angels?" (However, no posters of swimsuit-clad Angels were allowed at my house.) My grown-up love interest, though, is Cindy Crawford, who qualifies because she was in the 1995 movie "Fair Game."
MIKE M. -- Maggie doesn't buy my unconvincing denials, so I might as well admit it, I have a crush on Dubuquer Margaret Lindsay.
STEVE M. -- Greta Scacchi in "Presumed Innocent" in the early 90s. But even more serious was when I was 17 and saw "Summer of 42" with who was it? Jennifer O'Neill? What a sweetheart!

STACEY B. -- The biggest celebrity crush I had as a teenager was on the ever-so-handsome Jonathan Taylor Thomas. The obvious star of "Home Improvement," JTT was so incredibly dreamy. While that celebrity crush died quickly, I must admit I'm still crushing a little on Leonardo DiCaprio. Loved him in "Blood Diamond" and that other movie where he tells some woman to never let go.
ERIK H. -- Your crush choices are rather limited when all a kid watches is "The Flintstones" and "Ultraman," so I will say Hiroko Sakurai, who portrayed the lovely Fuji in the latter (you can see her here). A friend of my mom's had the famous Farrah Fawcett-Majors poster, and her flipped hair soon began to show up on all the real "foxes" at school. That was back in middle school, the age of the real true fox.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Winter on the run: Baseball returns

Tim Lincecum struck out one and allowed a hit during a scoreless first inning of work yesterday as the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS opened SPRING TRAINING play with a 10-7 win over the Indians.
Travis Ishikawa homered twice for the Giants.
I was just happy to read a BOX SCORE again: It's a sign that winter is on the run and the arrival of spring is inevitable.
I am currently working on a story that poses the question: "Is baseball still the national pastime?"
People are telling me no, that other forms of entertainment have robbed the sport of its special place in society.
The photo above displays the historical place of baseball among all levels of society. This shot from the JAPANESE AMERICAN NATIONAL MUSEUM shows a baseball team based at a World War II-era internment camp.
Baseball could rise above war, fear and prejudice (eventually).
I'm just glad it's back.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"The Frank Sinatra of the tenor saxophone"

"In some ways, Ben Webster is the Frank Sinatra of the tenor saxophone," Stephen Frostberg wrote in his original liner notes to the 1959 album, "BEN WEBSTER MEETS OSCAR PETERSON." After listening to the album the past couple days, I completely agree with Frostberg's assessment.
Webster's playing on songs such as "How Deep is the Ocean" and "In the Wee, Small Hours of the Morning" is rapturous.
More Frostberg:
"Both (Webster and Sinatra) have that way of making any line of any song sound like the most tender, sincere expression of love."
Here is one album certain to lift spirits.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Seijun Suzuki when sick

Here's something to try while ILL: Watch a SEIJUN SUZUKI film.
One of the films I watched while sick was "TOKYO NAGAREMONO (TOKYO DRIFTER)," fast-paced and lurid account of a former gangster wandering the Japanese hinterlands to escape from hit men.
Many of the film's stunning visual aspects have been linked to Suzuki's creativity in the face of movie-studio money managers.
"Suzuki had been warned again to curtail his wild visual antics," writes film historian CHRIS D., in "OUTLAW MASTERS OF JAPANESE FILM." "In an attempt to appease his bosses, he slashed Tokyo Drifter's budget. Conversely, this caused him and production designer Takeo Kimura to use even stranger, more imaginative lighting effects, sparsely dressed sets and weird juxtapositions to tell their story. The outcome was an outlandish deconstruction of the genre, a fast-moving piece of cinema made up of flamboyantly eccentric tableaux that is by turns funny, thrilling and romantic."
"Tokyo Nagaremono" might not make you quit coughing, but the exhilaration you feel watching this 1966 film might make you forget the hacking, at least for a while.

Monday, February 23, 2009

This Republic of Sniffling -- and Coughing

"With its large volunteer armies, its longer-range weapons, and its looser military formations, the Civil War thus placed more inexperienced soldiers, with more firepower and with more individual responsibility for the decision to kill, into more intimate, face-to-face battle settings than perhaps any war in history."
-- Drew Gilpin Faust
Hmm... It probably wasn't the best book to read while I struggled with my recent illness.
"THIS REPUBLIC OF SUFFERING: DEATH AND THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR" by DREW GILPIN FAUST is highly recommended, although, it might be best to read it free of prescription drugs.
While I coughed, wheezed and fretted how I couldn't open my right eye because of all of the "gunk," the book I opened by my bedside detailed the Civil War combat deaths of 620,000 Americans -- approximately equal to the total American fatalities in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the Korean War combined.
Nothing like a little "light" reading when you're sick.
Here are some facts about Civil War fatalities, culled from the book:
1) Confederate men died at a rate three times that of their Yankee counterparts.
2) Twice as many Civil War soldiers died of disease as battle wounds (a disparity fueled in part by the congregation of people originally from isolated rural areas, thus exposing them to new viruses and bacteria).
3) Railroads and emerging industrial capacity helped redeployment of armies and resupply more efficient, thus extending the duration of the war and the killing.
Faust offers a detailed analysis of Civil War death and she liberally uses portions of soldiers' letters home in her narrative.
"This Republic of Suffering" is a great read. But please, don't follow my example. Instead, read it while you are well.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wide awake with "the fourth best band in Hull"

One of the hallmarks of my recent illness has been an inability to secure a good night's sleep. That's one of the reasons why I am listening to THE HOUSEMARTINS before the sun comes up on a Sunday.
Of course, another reason is because The Housemartins were such a great band. Self-dubbed "THE FOURTH BEST BAND IN HULL," the four-piece enjoyed a run of seven U.K. top 40 hits between 1986 and 1988, including the Christmas number one "Caravan of Love," before they broke up.
PAUL HEATON could sound angelic, even when raging against inequality in his political lyrics. Heaton and drummer Dave Hemingway formed the musically similar BEAUTIFUL SOUTH when the Housemartins disbanded after only two albums.
Bassist NORMAN COOK has had the more divergent career path, gaining much more fame as FATBOY SLIM.
The Housemartins probably rivaled The Smiths for the catchiest songs of the late 80s. Listening to them before the sun comes up isn't all bad -- I just wish I had gotten more sleep.
"You can put it down to lack of patience, you can put it down to lack of sleep, but it's in my head to stay in bed, tucked under the sheets."

Oh yeah -- the three Hull bands reportedly "better" than The Housemartins were the Red Guitars, Everything But The Girl (or 3-Action, depending upon who told the story) and The Gargoyles.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

20 influential albums, all unwrapped

(The following is a FACEBOOK exercise, reprinted here. Normal ROUTE 1 service will return soon -- as soon as my antibiotic cocktail really kicks in!)

Think of 20 ALBUMS that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, months, weeks and years. These were the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world.

1. Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic -- Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf"

My childhood introduction to music. Well, besides the Alvin & The Chipmunks records.
2. The Beatles -- The Beatles Again
An LP compilation that actually belonged to my dad, it offered a strange mix of tunes, from "Can't Buy Me Love" to "Old Brown Shoe." It taught me The Beatles were great.
3. Cheap Trick - At Budokan
"This next one is the first song on our new album. It just came out this week and the song is called 'Surrender.'"
4. Elvis Costello and The Attractions -- Armed Forces
The other kids in school were listening to an album by some band called "Van Halen" or something. I wonder whatever became of them?
5. Talking Heads - Remain in Light
The polyrhythms and African highlife references were way over my head at the time, but correctly pointed the way toward my future musical interests. Who knew?
6. Simple Minds - Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call
Simple Minds were MY BAND in high school, and this album sounded unlike anything else they would ever produce.
7. XTC -- Drums and Wires
Quirky and weird. How about that? I had an album during my high school years that was exactly like I was.

8. Various artists -- More Intensified: Original Ska 1963-67
I don't know how I did it, but I managed to fall in love with vintage ska and rocksteady long before I ever heard Bob Marley. This compilation from my early high school years made me a fan of Jamaican music for life.
9. Sam Cooke -- A Man and His Music
Something about the songs on this compilation resonated deep within me. Maybe that's why they call it "soul?"
10. Jimmy Cliff -- "The Harder They Come" soundtrack
This compilation is really a beginner's guide to Jamaican music, and should be heard by everyone.
11. The Smiths -- How Soon is Now?
A self-professed worshipper at the feet of Johnny Marr, I am nonetheless not bowled over by the sprawling title track of this early compilation. Every other track whips me into a frenzy, though.
12. Various artists -- Soul Shots: A Collection of 60s Soul Classics
Not many people go to college in Iowa and discover soul music. I did, thanks to this compilation that kicks off with "But It's Alright" by J.J. Jackson.
13. Echo & The Bunnymen -- Never Stop extended play cassette
The year I graduated high school, I purchased an Echo & The Bunnymen cassette containing "Never Stop," "Rescue," "The Cutter," "The Back of Love" and "Do it Clean (recorded live)." I think I played that tape at least every other day during my freshman year in college.
14. Joy Division -- Unknown Pleasures
My early years of college found me sweeping the subterranean passages linking campus buildings -- hence my nickname, "Tunnelman." Those work-study duties seemed positively pleasant when compared to the dark, powerful sadness on my Unknown Pleasures tape.
15. The Undertones -- All Wrapped Up
I played the crap out of this "best of" album (pictured) when I was in college. Feargal and the lads accompanied me everywhere.
16. The Byrds -- Sweetheart of the Rodeo
I know it seems so strange, but I "discovered" George Jones and the Louvin Brothers after listening to Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Thanks Gram!
17. Miles Davis -- Kind of Blue
I resisted jazz -- my dad's music -- until after my dad passed away. Then, I heard albums such as "Kind of Blue," and I realized I had been such a fool to avoid this beautiful, intelligent music.
18. Pavement -- Slanted & Enchanted
Best band of the 90s? I think Pavement were for me. I always thought Nirvana sounded too much like the Pixies.
19. The Fall -- Totally Wired: The Rough Trade anthology
No list of my profound albums would be complete without a contribution from Mark E. Smith.
20. Horace Silver -- Song for My Father
The title track serves as my cellphone ringtone and a reminder that the world is full of good music. So keep looking and listening with an open mind.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Can't Wile E. win just this once?


Thursday, February 19, 2009

I am so tired of being sick

I can't even remember what it feels like to not be coughing, or not feel feverish, or not be stuffed up or even what it was like to hear everything.
I continue to struggle with EAR AND SINUS INFECTIONS, and tomorrow morning I have to go to the doctor. They apparently want to perform a CHEST X-RAY.
Good thing I put the FRIDAY QUESTION on hold this week.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Today's recipe for recovery

I learned something new this week: Nothing compounds ILLNESS quite like GUILT.
I have been wracked by guilt after EAR AND SINUS INFECTIONS helped rob me of time I could have been spending with my sister INGER, who returned to SAN FRANCISCO last night.
Only today am I beginning to emerge from a week-long cocoon of feeling crappy.
Having just completed 30 minutes on the treadmill, I am now embarked on a three-part recipe for recovery:
1) A small glass of BRANDY (actually, it really isn't a glass, it is a tiny jar recycled and reused after originally containing pimentos).
I chose the first two for their antioxidant properties.
I chose the third for the healing properties whenever I hear guitarist GEORGE BENSON playing with organist DR. LONNIE SMITH.
Recorded the year I was born (1966), "The George Benson Cookbook" should have given record executives an indication of Benson's greatness. Instead, as Benson recalled:
"By the time I finished recording (the album), I realized that Columbia Records was not as interested as (producer) John Hammond was in trying to further my career."
Benson moved onto Verve Records and eventual commercial success.
I love the tremendous energy of his "Cookbook" album, particularly Smith's playing.
Special moments occur, too, when Benson trades licks with baritone saxophone player RONNIE CUBER.
I wish I could have spent more special moments with my sister when she visited us.
Hopefully, I can recover from those feelings like I am recovering from my illness.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

(Wallace + Gromit) ↔ Laughter = Best Medicine

We're sending off my sister INGER today, but before she goes home to the Bay Area, we gathered to enjoy a funny film on DVD.
"WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT" features the absent-minded inventor and his ever-reliable dog as humane pest-control agents faced with their (literally) biggest challenge: An over-sized bunny is devouring the town's vegetables in advance of a "large vegetable" competition.
Our family has always loved the animation work of NICK PARK, and his most famous creations.
No one feels well today, with even visiting Inger beginning to feel the effects of our HOUSE OF ILLNESS.
They say laughter is the best medicine, and it certainly seemed to help as we watched the 2006 OSCAR winning Best Animated Feature.
Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter are among the actors providing the voices for this stirring tale.
The Hogstrom strongly recommends this film, particularly if you're not feeling well.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Theme for Great Illnesses

I can handle ear infections -- I have had so many of them since I was a kid, I have lost all count. Actually, ear infections probably account for my current appreciation of music: There was a time all those ear infections meant I couldn't even hear much music.
Pair an EAR INFECTION with a SINUS INFECTION, however, and that creates the problem facing me now: Hosting my sister INGER while on VACATION, and unable to enjoy myself much at all.
I feel miserable, "gunk" sealed shut my right eye during a recent nap, and I can't be much fun to be around.
All these aspects of illness rattled around in my brain as I drove myself to the doctor's office this morning.
I found comfort in music.
That shouldn't come as too big a surprise.
I put on "SISTER FEELINGS CALL," the 1981 SIMPLE MINDS album that was paired with "SONS AND FASCINATION." I go way back with these two albums. Together, they were the first albums I had in all four formats: VINYL ALBUM, CASSETTE TAPE, COMPACT DISC and DIGITAL FILE. (See the ROUTE 1 archives, circa June 2005.)
I have loved "Sister Feelings Call" for more than two decades, and now, even as I type this hunched over because for some reason it hurts if I straighten up (and with my troublesome right, gunky eye closed), the album continues to serve as a balm.
"Here comes every day it only lasts an hour."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Squeezing out the symptoms

I had forgotten how a COLD can linger.
I can't quite shed the symptoms, but I have tried to make the best of a bad situation.
My sister INGER is visiting from SAN FRANCISCO, and we have had fun showing her the neighborhood.
A classic album has provided some of the soundtrack to our travels.
Rolling Stone magazine described GRAHAM PARKER as "an angry young crank in the mode of Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson."
His 1979 album "SQUEEZING OUT SPARKS" is a real gem, though.
It infuses the singer-songwriter tradition with the bristling energy of UK punk, and actually charted not only in his native land (No. 18) but here as well (No. 40).
"Passion is no Ordinary Word" is a song that helped me emerge from the sniffles this morning.
"Passion is no ordinary word," Parker sings, "not just another sound that you hear at night."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Aaachooo! Pleath path de Ktheenethes

The attendance lady at JEFFERSON MIDDLE SCHOOL tells us "something is going around."
Yeah, tell us about it.
ROUTE 1 readers chime in on remedies by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What helps you feel better when you are sick?"
STEVE M. -- Plenty of fluids. I don't think much about the stereo when I am sick.
BEKAH P. -- Potato soup, season one of "Grey's Anatomy" and my bed. Oh yeah, and Kleenex. Lots and lots of Kleenex.
ANNIKA H. -- Watching "SpongeBob."
RICK T. -- Just laying down and keeping warm. Rest is the best!!!
LISA Y. -- Darkness, sleep and the occasional "How are you doing?" from the kids or hubbie.
ELLEN B. -- Tylenol Cold/Flu and my bed.
SASKIA M. -- When I'm sick, I need darkness, total quiet and sleep. As soon as I feel the urge to start checking my e-mail, I know I'm better again.
KERI M. -- Sleep and Cold FX.
ERIK H. -- Chicken noodle soup (the antioxidants boost the immune system and the steam can help open up sinus passages), sleep and jazz on my iPod.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My favorite Miles Davis album... for today

Being sick has given me plenty of opportunity to listen to music.
Trumpeter Wallace Roney once rated "MILESTONES" as "one of the greatest" recordings in jazz history, even ahead of another legendary work by MILES DAVIS, "KIND OF BLUE."
After intense listening, I am now inclined to agree with Roney: "MILESTONES" is my favorite Davis album, at least as of today.
Here are some reasons why:
"Even after he left, I would listen for a little of Philly Joe in all the drummers I had later," Miles wrote in his autobiography.
On the modal title track of "Milestones," Jones anchors the piece using what became known as the "Philly Joe lick" -- a cross-stick accent on the fourth beat of each bar. The rim-shot lick provides rhythmic impetus to a tune that gives the soloists freer rein than in a song based on changing chords.
2) The RED GARLAND trio showcase "Billy Boy" doesn't get much love from critics, but I find it a pleasant-enough jazz tune for piano, bass and drums.
Huh? No horns?
Yeah -- I still can't believe that Davis (and the other horn players) would lay out (not play) on a song on a Miles Davis album. That's how cool Miles Davis was: He didn't even have to play on his own dang songs.
"Coltrane was urgent, compulsive, blowing floods of notes as if he hadn't enough time to get everything in he had to say," wrote Davis biographer Ian Carr.
How *DID* John Coltrane play like that?
I can't understand how a person could play so many notes in such a short span and make it sound good. Any other person attempting to play so many notes at once would probably create a jarring cacophony. Not 'Trane.
So, tomorrow my head will hopefully clear, and I might even have a different Miles Davis album listed as my favorite. Today, though, "MILESTONES" tops that particular chart -- for good reasons, I think.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Some "Crocodiles" would make me feel better

I hate being SICK.
I was going to write a ROUTE 1 entry today about three things that make "MILESTONES" my favorite MILES DAVIS album, but I feel so crappy I really can't be bothered.
All I want to do is crawl back in bed and listening to "COMFORT MUSIC," like "CROCODILES" by ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN, an album that has been providing comfort since I was in high school.
I'll probably hop in bed and switch on the album as soon as I get home from work.
I'll write about Miles tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

They call it "Stormy Monday," but Tuesday's just as bad

You know you're sick when you can't even enjoy LOU RAWLS properly.
I am laying on the floor of my living room, listening to "LOU RAWLS LIVE," nursing a big glass of water, praying the Tylenol Cold & Congestion tablets take hold and -- "RORY SHUT UP!" -- wondering why the dog decided today would be the right day to begin barking out the window at the wind as it blows.
Even with the inside of my mouth tasting like CHALK and my nose running like a torrent, I can tell the 1966 album "Lou Rawls Live" is fabulous.
Rawls croons with backing by Tommy Strode (piano), Herb Ellis (guitar), Jimmy Bond (bass) and Earl Palmer (drums).
The between-songs banter is just as memorable as the tunes.
Rawls just talked about the wind on a cold Chicago day cutting like a razor blade, and the crowd is clapping in time with the rhythm of his cadence. The spoken introduction comes right before a swinging version of "Tobacco Road."
If you only knew Rawls as a singer of R&B ballads (and he is one of the best), you need to check out "Lou Rawls Live" to discover his jazzy side.
It is almost as good as orange juice when you're sick.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Victoria's victims weigh on my mind

The scale of AUSTRALIA'S BUSHFIRE DISASTER is difficult to fathom: At least 131 people killed, more than 750 homes destroyed and about 850 square miles burned.
I thought about the tragedy this morning, listening to VICTORIA'S legendary band SKYHOOKS while walking on the treadmill.
It was a small way I could pay tribute to the families destroyed by Australia's worst natural disaster.
I know it wasn't much to do, but I couldn't think too clearly at 5:25 a.m.
Here's a better way to help -- visit the Australian government's Web site devoted to disaster assistance, located here.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

It demands undivided attention

I listened to a lot of jazz this weekend during a visit to central Iowa -- celebrating my sister-in-law's birthday and the baptism of my newest nephew.
I only listened to one album twice -- "BAGS MEETS WES," by two men who were arguably the best musicians of their era for their respective instruments, vibraphonist MILT JACKSON and guitarist WES MONTGOMERY.
It's one of those albums that demands your undivided attention while listening -- I have heard several new aspects with each playing. Otherwise, the vibes and guitar can float past your ear, which would be tragic.
Are there any other albums that demand intense listening?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Up and moving with Friday Question

Whew! Nothing beats a brisk walk on the treadmill -- or a similar exercise regime -- as long as you have some good tunes to keep you moving.
ROUTE 1 readers share their own songs that spark by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What songs got you up and moving this week?"
MIKE D. -- A couple of rocking songs have been going through my head this past week.
One is Robert Palmer's "Bad Case of Lovin' You." The other is "Rich Little Girl," a song by the Dubuque-area rock band Tussle, from the D93 Basement Tapes II album from 1981.
RICK T. -- The Elvis song "G.I. Blues."
JIM S. -- Perfect timing for this week's question, Erik. I'm here at work early and set my iPod to the "Erik songs" playlist. The song "Don't Want to Know Why" by Whiskeytown just finished playing and... "Let Your Yeah be Yeah," by the Pioneers just came on. These are from early CDs you made for me during a tougher time in my life and they helped get me up and moving back then, too.
KERI M. -- "The Bear Necessities" from "The Jungle Book" and "Poker Face" by Lady Ga Ga.
BEKAH P. -- My fiancé and I just booked our honeymoon in Jamaica, and the trip includes a tour of Bob Marley's home and final resting place. So that means I have been grooving to the likes of "Buffalo Soldier," "I Shot the Sheriff" and "Redemption Song." But as for non-tropic tunes, I have been revisiting my favorite Beatles album, "Rubber Soul," which features my favorite fab foursome song ever -- "In My Life." Another recent favorite from that CD is "I'm Looking Through You."
KERSTIN H. -- "Sober" by Pink. She's awesome.
MIKE M. -- "The Old Durham Waltz" by Jez Lowe, and a half bottle o' wine.
ERIK H. -- My friend Clint and his wife Alisha had their first child recently, and my friend is a huge Pixies fan, so I listened to the Pixies while on the treadmill. "Debaser" really got me going!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Two legends pass the past couple days

We've lost a pair of musical legends the past couple days.
LUX INTERIOR (Erick Purkhiser) was the wild frontman for THE CRAMPS. He passed away yesterday, age 60.
Plenty of other bloggers have been eulogizing Lux, so let's turn our attention to TOM BRUMLEY.
Steel guitarist for BUCK OWENS' BUCKAROOS, Brumley died yesterday age 73 in San Antonio.
The son of gospel songwriter Albert E. Brumley, who wrote "I'll Fly Away," the younger Brumley toured and recorded with Owens throughout the 1960s, playing on such No. 1 hits as "Act Naturally" and "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail." His work on Owens' recording of "Together Again" is widely regarded as one of the finest steel guitar solos in the history of country music.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Give up the Funk: What my music library says about me

What does your music library say about you? It's a question popping up on FACEBOOK, as a result of a fun exercise involving mp3 players and the "shuffle" feature.
Here is how to play:
1) Put Your iPod or mp3 player on SHUFFLE.
2) For each question, press the next button to get your answer in the form of a song title. (No cheating, please.)
3) You must write down the song title and artist, even if they don't make sense as an answer.
4) Include any comments in parentheses.
5) Post the results using the answer to No. 25 as the title.
What does my music library say about me? Well, the fact that I currently have 14,476 songs in that library probably says all you really need to know.
For the record, here are the answers my iPod provided when I performed the exercise last night:
1. What do your friends say about you? "Waitin' in Your Welfare Line," Buck Owens. (Do they really say that?)
2. How would your coworkers describe you? "Run Through the Jungle," Creedence Clearwater Revival.
3. How would you describe yourself? "So What," Miles Davis
4. What do you like in a romantic partner? "Crown of Creation," Jefferson Airplane.
5. How do you feel today? "Fingertips, Pt. 2," Little Stevie Wonder. ("Clap your hands just a little bit louder.")
6. What is your life’s purpose? "Hallelujah," Jeff Buckley. (I adore this song.)
7. What is your motto? "Whip It," DEVO. (Um... OK...)
8. What do you think about the most? "Woman of the Ghetto," Phyllis Dillon.
9. What are you going to do on your next vacation? "In God's Country," U2.
10. What do you think of your first love/date? "88 Lines About 44 Women," The Nails. (I laughed when this song appeared. "...and I was afraid of a girl like that.")
11. What is your life story? "Real by Reel," XTC.
12. What did you do yesterday? "Blues from a Gun," The Jesus & Mary Chain. ("I don't care about the state of my hair.")
13. What do you think of when you see the person you like/love? "Why, Charlie Brown," Wynton Marsalis & Ellis Marsalis.
14. What describes your wedding? "This Charming Man," The Smiths. ("Will nature make a man of me yet?")
15. What will they play at your funeral? "Walking the Back Streets and Crying," Little Milton. (Wow.)
16. What is your obsession? "Anybody Seen My Baby," The Rolling Stones.
17. What is your biggest fear? "Underground Medicin," The Fall.
18. What is your biggest secret? "If I Had You," Frank Sinatra. ("I could turn the grey skies to blue.")
19. What is your biggest turn-on? "Fat," Archers of Loaf. (Actually, not so much).
20. How do you describe your friends? "Maria," Sarah Vaughan.
21. What would you do with a million dollars? "If You Want it Enough," The Johnny Burnette Rock n Roll Trio.
22. What is your opinion of sex? "A It Mek," Desmond Dekker, ("Hear she cry for ice water.")
23. What is your biggest regret? "Blue Arrangements," Silver Jews. ("Sometimes I feel like I'm watching the world and the world isn't watching me back.")
24. What would you rather be doing right now? "No Need for Alarm," Del Tha Funkee Homosapien.
25. What will you post this list as? "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)," Parliament.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Following the beautiful sax of Joe Henderson

The late tenor saxophone player JOE HENDERSON appeared on nearly 30 albums for BLUE NOTE records from 1963 to 1968.
I listened to one this morning while walking on the treadmill -- "THE REAL McCOY" by McCOY TYNER.
Henderson's saxophone illuminates the second song on the 1967 album, "Contemplation."
I completely forgot I was even walking while I followed Henderson's beautiful sax lines as they thread their way through the tune.
Henderson was among the most accomplished and versatile saxophonists of his era. That's why he appeared so often on disc. He deserved to be there.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Check out the classy Fender Jazzmasters on the cover!

I felt like I was being featured in some weird QUENTIN TARANTINO film -- an odd movie about a guy who drives to a bar to interview people watching the SUPER BOWL.
I was listening to "WALK DON'T RUN: THE VERY BEST OF THE VENTURES" while I traveled to and from an assignment at work yesterday.
Formed in TACOMA, WASH., in 1958, the Ventures are arguably America's greatest instrumental rock band (sorry Tortoise).
"Walk Don't Run," "Perfidia" and "Hawaii Five-O" are the songs most people remember. I love their cover of The Beatles' "I Feel Fine" the best.
The pioneering guitar work of co-leaders DON WILSON and BOB BOGLE has been so influential, people have dubbed the Ventures "The Band that Launched a Thousand Bands."
I felt like I was in a Tarantino film, because the filmmaker has long seasoned his movies with cool, twangy songs. Nobody did cool, twangy songs quite like The Ventures.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Torres is Super on Sunday

I have to work on SUPER BOWL SUNDAY for the second time in my decade at the newspaper.
I believe I will be interviewing people watching the game.
Before I leave home, though, I have been watching a rather special game myself on television.
FERNANDO TORRES scored two late goals as LIVERPOOL beat 10-man CHELSEA, 2-0, in their Premier League encounter at Anfield.
Chelsea should feel wronged: The red card referee Mike Riley showed Frank Lampard did not seem deserved.
It looked as if Chelsea would hold out for a goalless draw for most of the remainder of the match, until Torres headed in a cross for his first Anfield goal since leading SPAIN to the European Championship this summer.
"El Niño" added a second deep into injury time for the Reds, who now trail leaders Manchester United by two points.
I hope the Cardinals and Steelers produce as enthralling a display, although I fear I won't get to see all of today's stateside big game.